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Hebrew, Perfian, Arabic, Greek, Latin, German, Spanish, Italian, French and English, but an incredible quantity of incidental criticism and differtation upon every poffible variety of fubject,metaphyfics, manufactures, medicine, ethics, wool-drefling, generation, government, husbandry and engineering. The mere defcription of fuch a commentary, is enough to give our readers an alarming idea of Mr Good's industry and the extent of his reading; and when we add to this, that he neither reasons nor writes very ill upon most of the fubjects he difcuffes, we fhall probably give an impreffion of the work fomething more favourable than we can confcientioufly agree to fanction. The truth is, that Mr Good, though very intelligent, is very indifcrimate in the felection of his information; and though, for the most part, fufficiently candid and judicious in his remarks, is at the fame time intolerably dull and tedious. He has no vivacity; no delicacy of taste or fancy; very little originality; and a gift of extreme prolixity. His profe is better than his poetry; his reafonings are more to be trusted to than his criticifm; and his ftatements and explanations are of more value than his argument. We can afford to give but short specimens of his multifarious labours; but in a work of this magnitude it is fair that our readers fhould be enabled, in fome degree, to judge for themselves.
In writing the life of the poet, it certainly was fcarcely neceffary for Mr Good to inform his readers, that, immediately upon the expulfion of the Tarquins, Spurius Lucretius was unanimously chofen interrex, or king for the time being,' or to give an account of the library of Appellicon, or the labours of Sylla in correcting the text of Ariftotle. Some mention of Greek literature, however, was natural; and as Lucretius appears to have ftudied at Athens, the following elaborate encomium on that feat of learning is not perhaps altogether out of place.
But the literature of Greece was, nevertheless, beft to be acquired in Greece itfelf; and the Romans, though they tranfplanted books, could not tranfplant the general taste and fpirit that produced them. Athens, although confiderably fhorn of the glory of her original conftitution, and dependent upon Rome for protection, had still to boast of her fchools, her fcholars, and her libraries. Every fcene, every edi fice, every converfation was a living lecture of tafle and elegance. Here was the venerable grove, in which Plato had unfolded his fublime myfteries to enraptured multitudes: here the awful lyceum, in which Ariftotle had anatomifed the fprings of human intellect and action: here the porch of Zeno, still erect and ftately as its founder: and here, the learned fhades and winding walks, in which Epicurus had delineated the origin and NATURE OF THINGS, and inculcated tranquillity and temperance and here too was the vaft and magnificent library that Piiratus firft eftablished, and endowed for the gratuitous ufe of his countrymen.
countrymen. Here Homer fung, and Apelles painted: here Sophocles had drawn tears of tendernefs, and Demofthenes fired the foul to deeds of heroism and patriotic revenge. The monuments of every thing great or glorious, dignified or refined, virtuous or worthy, were ftill exifting at Athens and fhe had ftill philofophers to boast of, who were capable of elucidating the erudition that blazed forth more confpicuously in her earlier ages of independence.' I. xxix. xxx.
This piece of biography, which, of itself, would fill a moderate volume, contains, we think, about three authenticated passages : one is, that Lucretius ftudied at Athens; another is, that he lived a retired life, and did not mingle in the political contentions of his age; a third is, that he had a wife, or a mistress, of the name of Lucilia; and the laft is, that he became infane, and deftroyed himself at the age of forty-four. Whether his madness was brought on by grief for the banishment of his friend Memmius, or by the unlucky operation of a love potion adminiftered by Lucilia, is much and learnedly difputed by Eufebius, Giffenius, and Mr Good, who, of course, prefers the former and more creditable fuppofition.
We cannot undertake to give our readers even a specimen of the profundities that are difcuffed in the life and the appendix. They contain, among other things, a refolute defence of materialifm, and of almoft every particular tenet of the school of Epicurus. Mr Good has given, however, a very clear and accurate fummary of the atomical philofophy of that teacher, which we shall beg leave to extract, as by far the most confiftent and mafterly account we have ever met with of that comprehenfive fyftem.
In its mere phyfical contemplation, the theory of Epicurus allows of nothing but matter and fpace, which are equally infinite and unbounded, which have equally exifted from all eternity, and from dif. ferent combinations of which every individual being is created. These existences have no property in common with each other; for, whatever matter is, that space is the reverse of; and whatever space is, matter is the contrary to. The actually folid parts of all bodies, therefore, are matter; their actual pores, space, and the parts which are not altogether folid, but an intermixture of folidity and pore, are space and matter combined. Anterior to the formation of the univerfe, fpace and matter exifted uncombined, or in their pure and elementary ftate. Space, in its elementary ftate, is pofitive and unfolid void matter, in its elementary state, confifts of inconceivably minute feeds or atomsfo fmall that the corpufcles of vapour, light, and heat, are compounds of them; and fo folid that they cannot poffibly be broken, or made Imaller, by any concuffion or violence whatever. The express figure of thefe primary atoms is various: there are round, fquare, pointed, jagged, as well as many other fhapes. These fhapes, however, are not diverfi. ed to infinity; but the atoms themselves, of each existent shape, are in
finite or innumerable. Every atom is poffeffed of certain intrinfic powers of motion. Under the old school of Democritus, the perpetual motions exhibited were of two kinds :-a defcending motion, from its own gravity; and a rebounding motion, from mutual concuffion. Befides thefe two motions, and to explain certain phenomena which the following poem develops, and which were not accounted for under the old fyftem, Epicurus fuppofed that fome atoms were occafionally poffeffed of a third, by which, in fome very fmall degree, they defcended in an oblique or curvilinear direction, deviating from the common and right line anomalously; and hence, in this respect, resembling the ofcillations of the magnetic needle.
Thefe infinitudes of atoms, flying immemorially in fuch different directions, through all the immenfity of fpace, have interchangeably tried and exhibited every poffible mode of action,-fometimes repelled from each other by concuffion,-and fometimes adhering to each other from their own jagged or pointed conftruction, or from the cafual interflices which two or more connected atoms muft produce, and which may just be adapted to thofe of other configurations, as globular, oval, or fquare. Hence the origin of compound bodies; hence the origin of immenfe maffes of matter; hence, eventually, the origin of the world itfelf. When thefe primary atoms are clofely compacted together, and but little vacuity or fpace intervenes, they produce thofe kinds of fubftances which we denominate folid, as ftones, and metals: when they are locfe and disjoined, and a large quantity of fpace or vacuity occurs between them, they produce the phenomena of wool, water, vapour. In one mode of combination, they form earth; in another, air; and in another, fire. Arranged in one way, they produce vegetation and irritability; in another way, animal life and perception.-Man hence arifes-families are formed-fociety multiplies, and governments are inftituted.
The world, thus generated, is perpetually fuftained by the application of fresh elementary atoms, flying with inconceivable rapidity through all the infinitude of fpace, invifible from their minutenefs, and occupying the pofts of all thofe that are as perpetually flying off. Yet, nothing is eternal and immutable but thefe elementary feeds or atoms themselves the compound forms of matter are continually decompounding, and diffolving into their original corpufcles: to this there is no exception-minerals, vegetables, and animals, in this refpect all alike, when they lofe their prefent configuration, perifhing from exiftence for ever, and new combinations proceeding from the matter into which they diffolve. But the world itself is a compound, though not an organized being; fuftained and nourifhed like organized beings from the material pabulum that oats through the void of infinity. The world itfelf mutt therefore, in the fame manner, perifh: it had a beginning, and it will eventually have an end. Its prefent crafis will be decompounded; it will return to its original, its elementary atoms; and new worlds will arife from its deftruction.
Space is infinite, material atoms are infinite, but the world is not infinite. This, then, is not the only world, or the only material fyftem that exifts. The caufe whence this vifible fyftem originated is competent to produce others; it has been acting perpetually from all eternity; and there are other worlds and other fyftems of worlds exifting around us. In the vaft immenfity of space, there are alfo other beings than man, poffeffed of powers of intellect and enjoyment far fuperior to our own: beings who exifted before the formation of the world, and will exift when the world fhall perish for ever; whofe happinefs flows unlimited, and unallayed; and whom the tumults and paffions of grofs matter can never agitate. Thefe, the founder of the fyftem denominated gods :-not that they created the univerfe, or are poffeffed of a power of upholding it; for they are finite and created beings themselves, and endowed alone with finite capacities and powers;but from the uninterrupted beatitude and tranquillity they enjoy, their everlafting freedom from all anxiety and care.' I. cviii.—exi.
Some such abstract as this, indeed, we conceive to be altoge ther indispensable to every English reader, who may have courage to venture upon this translation. The system is not developed in the original with any extraordinary regard to method or perspicuity; and we must say for Mr Good's prose, that it is infinitely more luminous, as well as more harmonious, than the greater part of his verse.
The poetical merits of Lucretius have been a good deal obscured by the faults of his philosophy, and still more by their injudicious application to a system of so intricate and comprehensive a nature. It has been said of him, that when he put on the philosopher, he put off the poet; and laid aside his philosophy, in like manner, when he chose to be poetical. It would have been better for his reputation, in both capacities, if this had been true,-if he had reserved his poetry for episodes and introductions, and confined himself, in the body of the work, to an argumentative exposition of his system, which might have been in verse, without any disadvantage. But the boldness of his genius, his unfeigned enthusiasm for the subject he had undertaken, and the immature state of the critical and poetical art among his countrymen, effectually excluded such a distribution; and led him to incumber and embellish his reasonings with tender, sublime, and fanciful illustrations, while his genius was perpetually recalled from its flights by the details and intricacies of his philosophy. His work, therefore, is extremely unequal, and, in many places, insufferably tedious and fatiguing. But it is full of genius; and contains more poetry, we are inclined to think, than any other production of the Latin muse. With less skill-less uniform propriety-and less sustained dignity than Virgil, it has always appeared to us, that he had more natural
genius and original spirit; that his diction in his happier passages was sweeter and more impressive; and all the movements of his mind more free, simple, and energetic. His latinity is beautiful; and a certain mixture of obsolete expressions, gives it an antique air that is very interesting. These are the chief merits of the work; and certainly they are not to be found in every part of it: yet it has an interest of another kind, which would be lost, if it were reduced to a collection of choice passages. From the great extent of the subject, and the infinite variety and miscellaneous nature of the illustrations, it presents us with a more lively and comprehensive picture of the state of the arts and sciences at the time of its composition, and of the way of thinking and arguing that was then in fashion, than any other work which has come down to us of the same period.
But though, for all these reasons, we would recommend the study of Lucretius to all who have any relish for ancient learning, we can scarcely say that it gave us any pleasure to hear that a new attempt had been made to introduce him to the English reader. There is no poet, perhaps, so difficult to translate happily. His graceful, pure, simple, and melodious diction, could scarcely be transfused into another language; and there is an occasional tenderness and delicacy in his finer passages, which must defy the imitation of any one who could toil through his philosophy. Then the philosophy itself, occupying three fourths of the poem, is wholly insufferable to a modern reader: and to preserve the semblance of verse, without an entire sacrifice of perspicuity or coherence, must be more difficult than to put Homer's catalogue into harmonious couplets.
To say that Mr Good has failed to make an interesting English poem out of the work of Lucretius, would only be saying that he had not wrought an impossibility. But we are afraid he has more than this to answer for; and that he is chargeable with a pretty considerable share of the ennui and perplexity, the giddiness and intellectual lassitude which we encountered in our perusal of his two huge quartos. His pace in verse, we are compelled to say, is very heavy and shuffling. He has some strength, but no grace or spirit; and neither catches the fire, nor copies the elegance of his original. The grave, dignified, and sententious passages, are those he manages most tolerably ;-the noble and magnificent, he tames and subdues completely;-the tender and mellifluous, he makes stiff and ordinary;-and the common argumentative ones, he contrives to rob of their only merit, by the use of a pompous and obscure diction, which effectually conceals the simplicity and precision of the original statement. It appears.to us, also, that he has sometimes mistaken the sense of his author; and we are positive that he has often expressed it